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Miscellaneous Monday

Will likely be offline for the next couple of weeks, though if I find out otherwise then I will try to post some articles on various subjects.  Brazil appears to be in my very near future and I am leaving my wife behind to take care of the house while our dog and kids take care of her.  Regardless, here is a smattering of various things that caught my eye this week.  Oh, did I mention that I found out that my basement toilet was overflowing all night last night?  And I found it out after I had started cooking my breakfast so while I was cleaning up the mess in the basement I began to smell something burning upstairs?  Yep, its Monday!

Apparently that lovely complex the government is building in Utah to store all of the data they keep getting by spying on their citizens will hold around 10 zettabytes.  I had no idea what that meant but found this graph to be disturbingly enlightening. Here is a take-away-quote from the article on the project under construction to give you the sense of the size, “Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.”

This little graphic is exactly why I hate math and envy those who love it.  I know there is an obvious answer but I simply don’t understand how it works.  It is embarrassing but it is reality too.  For those who find the answer obvious just quietly smirk at your screen and don’t bother explaining it to me.

I simply love this animated gif but for more than the obvious reasons.  First, the pretty girl’s face right at the end suggests she is used to getting her wishes and this one did not work out.  After that just keep watching and look at all the other people, things begin to stand out.  The one I like the most is the lady in the bottom left corner.  Essentially stone-faced.

This story is capable of causing widespread panic among red-blooded men and women everywhere.  Only read when you are quiet, calm and preferable sedated.

This picture keeps showing up wherever I go so I decided I should just post it myself and get it out of my system.  Do you get the sense that poor Dave lives with Mom still?

I had no idea this guy was worth that much.  Good for him.

I don’t have a lot of pictures today so I am giving you are few videos I liked.
Apparently this may be the new thing in China

This was simply cool.

And lastly I give you Ashima, I suspect she will climb to great heights one day.

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A Baby Is A Baby Is A Baby

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.
 (Psalm 139:14-16 NASB)

I came across a very interesting link the other day that I set aside for my Miscellaneous Monday post that I never got around to posting.  Sorry about that (not really).  I noticed, however, that there was a vague, undefined irritation that came over me as I looked at the pictures.  It was only after a few days of thinking that I realized what the problem was–abortion.

The Gosnell trial is moving along and more and more disturbing information is coming forth.  Babies are murdered and the nation shrugs.  The new issue out in talking-points-land is what do we do when a baby is born who was supposed to be dead?  Baby struggling in the water of a toilet?  No big deal.  Apparently if you are unsure what to do with parts of a murdered baby the answer is flush them. Of course, that should not even be discussed since the baby isn’t supposed to die by the hands of people at any stage of his life, but hey, I am small-minded that way.

When you look at the pictures of these various animals in utero (never knew this term was two words and no idea why WordPress doesn’t recognize utero as a word) you have to marvel.  Amazing photos that testify to the amazing work of our Creator whose wisdom and power is manifest in so many subtle ways.  But as you look at these baby animals, who are somehow recognized as animals, not just lumps of tissue, allow a bit of rage to circulate as well.  For none of these bear the image of their Maker, while countless millions of little image-beaters are cast into dumps and burn bags.

 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
(Genesis 1:27 NASB)

Creating Reality with Words

Below you will find two excellent quotes from Martin Luther.  Read them, then read them again.  I cannot take credit for finding them, one of my favorite authors did that for me.  Carl Trueman, in his fun and challenging book Fools Rush in Where Monkeys Fear To Tread (worth the price of the book just for that title) writes a very helpful essay entitled, “Am I Bovvered?” about words and how we like to attach our sense of reality to what another person said, usually complaining that they hurt us.

In all of this he makes the key distinction between our words and God’s and he does it through these two quotes.  The first is that when God speaks He generates reality.  The second quote is about the Cross, where we must accept God’s words as the reality of what the Cross is, not what man says it means.  Good stuff.

Here attention must also be called to this, but the words “let there be light” are the words of God, not of Moses; this means that they are realities. For God calls into existence the things that do not exist (Romans 4:17). He does not speak grammatical words; he speaks true and existent realities. Accordingly, that which among us has the sound of the word is a reality with God. Thus Sun, Moon, heaven, earth, Peter, Paul, I, you, etc. – we are all words of God, in fact only one single syllable or letter by comparison with the entire creation. We, too, speak, but only according to the rules of language; that is, we assign names to objects which have already been created. But the divine role of language is different, namely: when he says: “Sun, shine,” the Sun is there at once and shines. Thus the words of God are realities, not bare words.

(Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. I, Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 1-5 (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999), 21-22.

The theologian of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theologian of the Cross calls the thing what it actually is.

This is clear: he who does not know Christ does not know God hidden in suffering. Therefore he prefers works to suffering, glow to the cross, strength to weakness, wisdom to folly, and, in general, good to evil. These are the people whom the apostle calls “enemies of the cross of Christ” [Philippians 3:18], for they hate the cross in suffering and love works and the glory of works. Thus they call the good of the cross evil and the evil of a deed good. God can be found only in suffering and the cross, as has already been said. Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are destroyed and the old Adam, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his good works unless he has first been deflated in destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s.

(Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 31, Career of the Reformer I (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 53.

Suffering & Glory

The Christian is called to suffer.  That is simply a truth that must not be ignored, for suffering shall come upon all who call upon the name of the Lord.  But a while back I preached a sermon where I tried to help my congregation understand that though suffering is inevitable, it is not worthy to be compared to the coming glory to those who endure it.  What follows are two arguments that Paul gives us in Romans 8:19-25 as to why the glory that is to come outweighs the suffering that is now.

Argument #1, The glory must be worth the suffering because creation longs for it (19-22).  Notice the “for,” (not in the NIV) it means “for this reason.”  But the question that should be raised in your minds is what reason.  What is the argument that Paul will give us for embracing the insignificance of our suffering in comparison to the glory to come?  He doesn’t say, “For we must suffer to earn the glory.”  Nor does he say tell us to hang in there or keep on enduring.  He also does not tell us exactly what that glory that is ours to come actually is.  In fact, it is probably beyond our ability to really understand the glory.  So, what Paul does is show us that it must be truly a glorious thing by showing how even all of creation longs for this revealing of the glory.

Notice how he puts it in verse 19.  When Paul talks about creation here he is speaking of a specific aspect of creation.  Let me explain:  Creation could refer to everything created.  Meaning, anything and everything that is not God Himself.  But it is doubtful that this is what Paul is referring to here.  The answer to this is found in noticing what this creation is doing and what has happened to this creation.  It is eagerly waiting for our glory to be revealed.   And it has been subjected, meaning innocently subjected, to futility.  With those two points in mind we can then eliminate angels from this, because, though they look forward to the revelation of Christ and the glory to come, they are not subject to any futility.  We can eliminate demons because they are guilty of their sin and rebellion against God and they do not look forward to the end of time, for then they shall enter into eternal judgment.  The same for Satan himself.  We can eliminate believers, because Paul makes a distinction between us and the ‘creation’ in vss. 19, 21, and 23.  In fact we should eliminate mankind in general from this use of creation.  Mankind is not eagerly awaiting the revelation of Christ, nor does mankind delight in the Lord and His glory.  Therefore, we need to see creation here as referring to the nonrational creation.  The animals, the trees, the clouds and water, the planets and stars, the dirt and the bugs.

So, what is this creation doing?  It anxiously longs, it yearns for this revelation of glory that is to come.  That word, “anxious,” is a word that literally means to ‘stretch the head forward.’  We have all seen this, it is most easily seen in children when they are straining to watch something.  So here is creation, standing on tiptoe, craning its neck forward, seeking to capture a glimpse of the fulfillment of this long awaited promise.  Paul, then, is personifying creation, making dirt and trees be like they can think and reason.

What is it that creation longs to see?  The “revealing of the sons of God.”  It looks to the day that is to come when we are all changed and made into the likeness of our Lord and Savior.  For on that day the Father shall lift the curse from this creation and it shall finally have peace again. When is this to come?  I believe that this is not speaking only of eternity, but of the earthly reign of Jesus Christ. That He shall come and He shall reign and there shall be justice and peace upon the whole of the world.  This will then expand itself into eternity when the new heavens and the new earth are created and we enter into eternity where death and sin and Satan are all banished.

Now, consider verse 20 and notice the next ‘for.’  Again, the word “for” means “for this reason.”  In other words, Paul now explains in verses 20-22 why it is that creation is longing for the revelation of us in our glory.   First, when we are revealed in our glory then creation shall be relieved from its enslavement (20).  That phrase, “was subjected to futility,” or as the NIV puts it better, “frustration,” describes the very real burden that Creation is under.  Creation has been prevented from fulfilling its real purpose.  This all came about through no fault of Creation.  It was happily obeying the Lord until the sin of Adam.  And at that point in time it became subjected, enslaved to a lesser ability of service. And for all these thousands of years it has been groaning and aching under the pressure and burden of OUR sin.  Therefore, when a lion takes down its prey, there is a groaning.  When an orca whale takes a seal, or a frog eats even a fly, creation groans.  For this was not its purpose, rather, it was its curse.

Creation was designed by God to perfectly display His glory.  But since the Fall, this has not happened.  And there is a real sense of frustration in all of this.  We can understand this ourselves as Christians.  We know that we are called to glorify God in all ways, but so often we fall short.  And there is a yearning and ache in our inability.  But when this happened, when God subjected all of creation it was done “in hope.” (20c).  There was the promise of the day that the Lord would redeem us.   When the great enemy, Satan would be destroyed and that moment began to dawn upon creation the day when the Son of God became man.

Consider how He impacted Creation by His presence, when  He entered creation and  He walked upon His earth.  Wherever He went creation leaped for joy.  Bread would multiply.  Water would become hard under his feet.  Storms would obey His commands.   Fish would give up gold coins.   When He went to the Cross, creation wept with the earthquake and the great darkness.   And then the great words of our Lord came forth, “it is finished.”  And He gave up His spirit and died.  And at that moment creation began to yearn all the more!  For great enemy of sin was destroyed at that time.  Imagine all the more how much creation began to hope when on the 3rd day He arose!   And now, it waits, with a fervent expectation for the return of its Lord.  For on that day we shall be changed and we too shall be revealed in our eternal glory with the Lord and creation shall finally be free!

Verses 21 and 22 pick up on this and develop it even more.  Notice how verse 21 speaks to this freedom.  At the time of Christ’s second coming Creation shall be set free from the decay that sin brought into its existence.  It shall be brought back into the fulness of the glory that it was designed by God to fulfill.  Now you think about that for a moment:   Think of the most glorious thing in all of creation that you have even witnessed. Think of the fact that all of creation all day and night is constantly declaring the glory of God.  And realize that this is not even to the level that it was designed.   On that day, finally the shackles that it has been bound in are released and all of creation shall exult and pour forth the great praise and glory that it was always designed to do.  Words escape me to describe this sufficiently.  But it is the very point of Paul that this yearning of creation is a key piece of evidence that tells us that we should be looking forward to that day of our glory.

Verse 22 describes this in the terms of childbirth.  And in doing so gives us all something we can grab hold of as we try to see the glories of what is to come, even though right now there are sufferings.  There is a huge difference between the cries of pain in the emergency room of a hospital as compared to the maternity ward, isn’t there?  As Calvin said it, these are not death pangs, but birth pangs.  And oh what a difference that makes to the one suffering.   And this is the groans that Creation finds itself in.  It aches and hurts, yet there is hope, for in the end there shall be the birth of freedom and glory.  And therefore it endures and continues to look to that day.  And in the same way we are to be yearning and aching for that day, which leads us to the second and final argument that Paul makes.

Argument #2 to come…

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